The Alberni Valley Wrestling Club hosted a play day for elementary school students at EJ Dunn Elementary School last week for the first time in more than two years.
Club president James Messenger says this is the first time the wrestling club has been able to restart its elementary school program since the fall of 2019. The 2020 and 2021 seasons were both interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting restrictions.
The elementary program starts practice in September twice a week. Twice during the year, the “south side” schools (Wood, Maquinna, Dunn and JPII) and “north side schools” (Tsuma-as and Alberni) will get together for a play day, where students get to practice wrestling with each other and play some wrestling games. There are no winners or losers during these play days, said Messenger.
“It’s all about getting that practice of wrestling with different people,” said Messenger. “And for parents to see what it looks like.”
So far this season, Messenger says he has seen more parents at practice than any other season before.
“All the kids—and parents—have been really excited about restarting and reconnecting,” he explained.
The elementary school program has several staff sponsors and senior coaches, as well as some junior coaches who wrestle in the high school program. For coaches, said Messenger, the last two years have been difficult.
“We had some very limited wrestling at the high school,” he explained. “But it was very different. It was two years of a very small high school program, where we weren’t sure about tournaments. So far this year, it looks like we’re back to normal.”
The wrestling club will be hosting another play day at Maquinna Elementary on Oct. 27, followed by an elementary school tournament at Alberni District Secondary School on Nov. 4 from 2-6 p.m. This will be a wrap-up of the season, offering students who are interested a chance to compete.
The high school wrestling season will start in November.
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